While adverbs and passive voice seem to be the primary targets of literary disdain and unchained vitriol, a close third might be the imaginative use of dialogue tags. As a creative writer, especially as a storyteller, you may have a desire to spread your literary wings and find expressive words that convey something deeper and immerse your reader, like Harry Potter falling into a memory in the Pensieve.
So why use “said” when your character chortled? Or maybe she guffawed. Or did he exclaim!
As a general rule, “said” is usually the best solution when attributing a statement to a character. But, there are times in your book or short story — or journalistic/nonfiction report — where a more specific qualifier would do a lot to paint a complete picture. For those times, the infographic below might help you land on that perfect word.
Produced by the folks at ProofreadingServices.com, this infographic is your thesaurus-at-a-glance for dialogue tags and other means of expressing the tone of a statement. For my own writing, I find that dialogue tags are often unnecessary once the characters in a conversation are established or a source is being repeatedly quoted. But, even so, maybe there really is a time when your protagonist natters, your villain vociferates, and a secondary character asseverates.
Or is there?
Let your dialogue do the talking
So Bad, It’s Good
Pick The Best Sentences In Your Favorite Books (and try to match the quality)
How To Harness The Hidden Influence Of Power Words
Use Expressive Words To Build Your Story World